MAKI UEDA

- PASSPORT TO ISHIGAKI ISLAND -

 

installation (2019)

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[Place] Ishigaki City Center for Culture, Ishigaki Japan (premier)

[Dates] 24.04.2019. - 19.05.2019.

[Artist] Maki UEDA (solo exhibition)

[Curator] Tomohiro OKADA (Blue Ocean Foundation / Shimanova)

 

[Experience]

How do you smell, when you lay down? Is it different from how we normally smell: sitting or standing?


In this work you lay down in a private dark space, let your body release and relax, and smell.  The parasympathetic nervous system becomes active then, and consequently you would smell the scent differently than you do in the normal context where the sympathetic nervous system is active.  You are ‘in’ the scent, drown, or completely immersed.  



What you smell here is the scent of night flowers, but you smell it unconsciously.
[Story]

Ishigaki Island, where I live, is a fragrant island.  During the hot and humid summer nights we often smell the night flowers in bed as if it is “a perfume of the night”.  It comes up in mind but also disappears quickly, and it repeats. We go back and forth conscious and unconscious smelling.  I have taken this experience and shaped it in the form of this installation. 



When we smell in a western or city context, scent (or fragrance) is something special.  For us in the rural area here, scent is something always there, we take it for granted and not that special. Cities are the consumers of fragrances, but rural areas are the producer.  People here do not wear fragrances, because it’s surrounded by the natural scents of the environment. How people appreciate scents here became an inspiration for this work.


[Technical Fact]

I have used self-extracted Silk Jasmine, a common plant here, and added a touch of fragrance I composed, as booster and fixative.  The scent is impregnated in the paper petals.


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 [Research]

It is a research of a biome* from olfactory perspective, and also how people interact with the biome with the olfactory sense. 

*“A biome is a community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in. Biomes are distinct biological communities that have formed in response to a shared physical climate.” - wikipedia

I have been extracting various plants of the island, and found out that there were common substances present in the extracts.  They were exhibited next to this installation.

For example, we have a lot of night blooming flowers, and they always have hidroxycitronellal type of substances in common. It must be for attracting moths and to get more chance of pollination. Spicy and citrus aspects are often found in leaves, and it must be for surviving in this extremely hot and humid summer here. (Camphoraseus substances as 1,8 cineol, often found in the cold climate area, were less found here - probably it’s too hot for such substances.)

List of raw extracts exhibited (self made)
1. Camphor
2. Shell Ginger Flower
3. Taiwan sugar palm
4. Gardenia
5. Barringtonia
6. Water Lily
7. Ryukyu Pine Tree
8. Vetiver